by Ken Babal C.N.
For centuries, mushrooms
such as reishi, shiitake,
maitake and others have
been used throughout Asia to
promote vibrant health, build
resistance to disease and
preserve youth. Today, they
are used in holistic medicine
and are popular as nutritional
Lionís mane (Hericium erinaceum) is one of the
edible mushrooms widely distributed in Japan
and China. Its name comes from its beautiful
white icicle-like spines. Regular consumption of
lionís mane is said to give you ďnerves of steelĒ and
ďthe memory of a lion.Ē Scientific studies performed
in Asia show that lionís mane is able to regenerate
neurons by stimulating production of nerve growth
factor (NGF). Thatís why today the active ingredients
in this amazing mushroom are being studied for their
ability to support healthy brain aging.
NERVE GROWTH FACTOR
NGF belongs to a family of proteins that play a part
in maintenance, survival and regeneration of neurons
during adult life. As we age, NGF declines,
resulting in less-efficient brain functioning. In mice,
its absence leads to a condition resembling
Alzheimerís disease. Because NGF is unable to
cross the blood-brain barrier, it cannot be administered
as an oral or IV drug. Accordingly, scientists
have been searching for bioactive compounds that
can penetrate the blood-brain barrier and be taken
orally to induce synthesis of NGF within the brain.
HERICENONES AND AMYLOBAN
A breakthrough occurred when a Japanese
research team discovered a class of compounds
called hericenones in lionís mane that stimulates
production of NGF, causing neurons to regrow.
These compounds offer great potential for repairing
neurological damage, improving intelligence
and reflexes and, even more significant, preventing
and treating dementia, including Alzheimerís
disease. Whatís more, hericenones are the first
active substances found in natural products to
induce NGF synthesis.
An additional compound isolated from lionís
mane was found to protect against neuronal cell
death caused by toxic beta-amyloid peptide. Beta-amyloid
peptide is the main component of plaque
that develops in the brains of Alzheimerís disease
patients, causing destruction of neurons as it progresses.
This protective compound in lionís mane
is simply known as amyloban.
One experiment at the Chinese Pharmaceutical
University compared a standardized lionís mane
extract with a common Alzheimerís drug. Results
showed that rats treated with the mushroom extract
performed a water-maze test at least equal or better
to the Alzheimerís drug (Ariceptģ), depending on the
dosage of the extract. Also, rats who received lionís
mane extract produced significantly more NGF.
A clinical study using lionís mane was conducted to
investigate its effectiveness against dementia in a
rehabilitative hospital in Japan.
Results showed that after six months of taking
lionís mane, six of seven patients experienced
improvements in their functional scores. In particular,
three bedridden patients were able to get up to
eat meals after administration.
For this reason, compounds in lionís mane are
attracting great attention for preventing and treating
various types of dementia.
Maitake Products of New Jersey is a company that
has been at the forefront of mushroom research.
Their Mushroom Wisdom line includes Super Lionís
Mane, which is recommended for maintaining neurological
function, and Amyloban 3399, a proprietary
standardized extract containing an even more
powerful therapeutic concentration of hericenones
and amyloban from lionís mane.
Ken Babal has a clinical nutrition practice in Los Angeles and
is author of several books including Maitake Mushroom and
D-Fraction (Woodland, 2004).
Amyloban 3399 and other
Maitake formulas are available
at health retailers nationwide.
For more information or to find a
store in your area, please call
Maitake Products at 800-747-
7418 or visit www.maitake.com.
Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.